Eating a balanced diet is key to maintaining good health and keeping the body functioning at optimum capacity. In children, a balanced diet is essential for growth, prevention of stunting and the building of body immune system. In adults, a balanced diet not only provides us with energy, it also brings with it the necessary nutrients for repair of damaged tissues. It also provides us with the necessary vitamins and minerals needed for the maintenance immune system and prevention of some diseases.
A balanced diet does not cut out food groups, it consists of a wide variety of foods, served in the correct proportions, to support our body, and keep us energised, motivated and healthy.
Here are six simple tips to help you hit your balanced diet quota
1. Eat A 5-A-DAY
That is at least 5 servings of different mixtures of fruits and vegetable. Fruit and vegetables are a vital source of vitamins and minerals.
2. Eat some carbohydrates
One-third of meals to be based on starchy foods like potatoes, bread, rice or pasta. Where possible, choose wholegrain or wholemeal varieties such as brown rice, wholewheat pasta and brown, wholemeal or higher fibre white bread. They usually contain more vitamins and minerals than white varieties.
3. Milk and Dairy Products
You can substitute with dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks). Milk and dairy foods such as cheese and yoghurt are good sources of protein. They also contain calcium, which helps keep your bones healthy.
4. Don’t think of ever omitting proteins
Proteins are essential for normal growth in children and for the repair of body tissues. They are also good sources of a range of vitamins and minerals. Common sources include legumes such as beans and pulses, fish, eggs, meat (white or red meat), diaries.
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5. Fats and oils are not bad per say
Some fat in the diet is essential but should be limited to small amounts. It is important to get most of our fat from unsaturated oils and spreads. Swapping to unsaturated fats can help to lower cholesterol.
6. Finally, drink plenty of water (or some other fluid)
There are many reasons why water is the preferred choice for hydrating the body. It’s cheap (relative to other drinks), it has zero calories (good for weight watching), zero sugar (no additional trips to the dentist). However not everyone likes the tasteless taste of still water, so feel free substitute with sparkling water, or add a slice of lemon or a splash of no-added-sugar squash or fruit juice to the water. Other healthy fluid options include tea (plain or fruit) and coffee (with no added sugar).
Other healthy fluid options include tea (plain or fruit) and coffee (with no added sugar).
A version of this piece appeared on nhs.uk.